A HUSBAND and wife from Westfield conned hundreds of investors into buying more than £4million of over-priced shares in a ‘boiler room’ scam, a court heard this week.
Brian O’Brien, 57, and Lynne D’Albertson, 58, tricked more than 300 people into purchasing vastly inflated stock in Golden Dynasty Resources and Claim Tracker, it is said.
The couple, who live in New Cut, Westfield, sold shares in the two companies for up to four times the value agreed with the firms and siphoned off the profits into their own accounts, prosecutors allege.
Jurors at Southwark Crown Court that of the £4m forked out by victims only around £1m reached Golden Dynasty and Claim Tracker.
D’Albertson, who trained as a nurse, is even said to have conned members of her own family into buying the shares.
She and O’Brien allegedly oversaw the sale of the shares through three companies, Black and White Investments SL and Cardinal Securities SL, both based in Spain, and DML Corporation Ireland, based in Limerick, Ireland.
The profits from the scam are then said to have been transferred back to their UK based company Securetrade and Title Ltd, which had a trading address in Little Common Road, Bexhill.
A portion of the monies invested was passed on to Canadian mining company Golden Dynasty and UK based technology company Claim Tracker.
It is alleged the remainder of the cash was then either paid out to co-conspirators and sales staff working for O’Brien and D’Albertson or into either their personal bank accounts or the offshore account of a company registered to D’Albertson - West Addison Property Management.
Cardinal Securities was heard to have been set up by James Pye, while DML was set up by two alleged co-conspirators who cannot be named for legal reasons, though O’Brien and D’Albertson are ultimately said to have been in charge.
None of the companies were regulated by either the Financial Services Authority or the equivalent bodies in either Spain or Ireland, the court heard.
Prosecutor Amanda Pinto said: “At the hub of the operation was a UK company called Securetrade and Title Ltd that was run by O’Brien and D’Albertson from the home in East Sussex.”
Of the potential investors contacted by these fraudulent businesses about 300 people actually invested in Claim Tracker and Golden Dynasty through them, she added.
Mrs Pinto said: “The victims were predominantly older, British residents who were invited to buy shares and were deceived by the dishonest representation and the deliberate, dishonest withholding of significant, relevant information to part with significant sums of money for shares which were either limited for sale of had little or no market value.
“In a period of some eight months investors paid about £1.6m to STT for the purchase of Golden Dynasty shares, of which some £480,000 was paid to Golden Dynasty.
“Equally, for Claim Tracker investors paid about £2.5m for the purchase of its shares only £600,000 was transferred to Claim Tracker.
“The investors upon who this fraud was perpetrated were never told that most of the funds they put up would not go to the investment targets.
“Without exception all those shareholders seen by the Serious Fraud Office would not have invested had they known this was the case.
“The shares were sold at such inflated prices and such a small portion of the investors’ money was invested that there was never any chance of them making a profit.”
Ms Pinto said the alleged con began in 2005 after O’Brien, described as the ‘brains behind the scam’, secured deals with Golden Dynasty and Credit Tracker to sell shares on their behalf.
She described the companies as ‘small, relatively obscure’ firms that wanted to raise capital quickly.
Both had been targeted as their share prices could not be easily monitored as one was registered on a foreign stock exchange and the other was not registered on any stock exchange, the court heard.
Jurors were told that at the time the alleged fraud began Golden Dynasty shares were valued at just 6p each but O’Brien and D’Albertson sold them for as much as 25p.
DML, the court heard, operated both as a ‘boiler room’ but also attempted to con previous investors duped through Black and White and Cardinal.
Salesmen at DML offered a ‘recovery room’ through which buyers could offload the shares in Golden Dynasty and Capital Tracker for a fee.
Ms Pinto said: “In truth DML did nothing with these bad shares, they simply used them as a device for getting more money out of the investors who had been conned the first time.”
The court heard when investigators caught up with O’Brien and D’Albertson the court heard the couple attempted to conceal crucial documents by passing them to friends.
But as a result of D’Albertson’s alleged tricking of friends family members into buying the over-priced shares those documents were later passed to the Serious Fraud Office.
It was also discovered the couple had transferred money from the West Addison Property Management account in Guernsey to banks in Cyprus and O’Brien’s native US.
O’Brien and D’Albertson deny conspiracy to defraud, fraudulent trading contrary to Section 458 of the Companies Act 1985, contravening the general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section 2 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, transferring criminal property between August 2, 2005, and August 24, 2006, and hampering an investigation.
O’Brien also denies one count of attempting to obtain a money transfer by deception.
The couple have already pleaded guilty to two further counts of contravening general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section 2 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, the jury heard.
Pye pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and one count of contravening general prohibition on carrying on regulated activity contrary to section 2 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 last year.
The trial continues.